May 23-25, 2012: The best way to travel between Vancouver Island and the city is undoubtedly on a small plane. I saw the seaplanes landing both in Victoria and Vancouver, but wasn’t willing to pay over $100 for the experience. I was a little extravagant though. I could have used public buses between the city centers and the ferry ports, but instead paid Pacific Coach Lines for rides that were almost door-to-door.
I was staying for the second time at the YWCA, just uphill from BC Place, and just downhill from the Stadium skytrain stop. This time I discovered that it was also just uphill from a good restaurant – a good hotel restaurant at that – Zachary’s in the Hampton Inn. But the real reason I liked the YWCA was the very reasonable price: the senior rate for a semi-private room in May was just $81. Unfortunately, my second night the other person (maybe people) sharing my bath made such a mess I wound up showering down the hall, but I did get a discount.
Having missed out on Butchart Gardens, I took advantage of the better weather in Vancouver to visit the lovely Queen Elizabeth Park – easily reached by bus – and its centerpiece, the Bloedel Floral Conservatory. While the temperature and humidity inside the conservatory reminded me a little too much of a North Carolina summer, I loved the birds.
The weather really was better in Vancouver. My last afternoon I explored the south side of Stanley Park, having enjoyed a full day on the north side on my last visit, and found a lot of locals sunbathing. I wasn’t much impressed by the beach, but loved wandering through the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden, where azaleas competed with the rhododendrons for my admiration.
I also paid a repeat visit to Granville Island, which had been partly closed on an earlier visit. I still found it too touristy for my taste, although some of the higher end galleries cum shops were worth browsing. With better planning I might have eaten at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, but without a reservation I had to settle for some pretty good fish and chips in a crowded cafe. (First time I’ve had English-style fish and chips made with salmon!)
Like Chicago and San Francisco, Vancouver has no shortage of interesting buildings, and I duly admired the outside of a number of them, mostly downtown. Then I got to spend some time inside a rather different building. The Roedde House is a late Victorian residence anchoring one side of Barclay Heritage Square, and has been restored and furnished to demonstrated the life of a middle-class family of that era. The rather comfortable life, from the look of it.
Vancouver is a city I’ll always be happy to visit, but I was ready to get back on a train and see some more mountains.